The opportunity for eCommerce businesses in 2021 is huge. According to a report published by Shopify, global online sales reached an all-time high of 16.4% of total global retail sales during 2020, and many believe this is likely to continue throughout 2021.
Needless to say, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the growth of online markets and we’ve seen the emergence of more digital-first businesses than ever before. With competition fierce, the stakes are high for eCommerce businesses and that means you need to make sure your brand stands out.
The good news is that there are now hundreds of free and easy to use tools that you can utilise to make life that little bit easier and boost your sales even further! Here we look at seven of the best that you need to be using in 2021.
Website analytics can give you huge amounts of data and important insights into your site’s visitors, from how they behave to their age, location, when they visit your site and even where they came to your site from. Utilising this data should play an important role in your decision making because it can be used to unlock opportunities, as well as help to improve customer retention and the consumer experience.
The most commonly used tool is Google Analytics, which is completely free and can be integrated with almost any website. Its interface is simple to navigate, and as it’s such a well-known platform that there is plenty of support readily available. The important thing is to make sure you’re tracking and utilising the data to work out what works for your business.
Whether you’re looking to discover new growth opportunities, or simply want some content inspiration then you need to be looking at trend data. Google Trends is a tool that allows you to look at the popularity of search terms and trends over time as well as allowing you to compare them against each other.
As with analytics, Google Trends is completely free and can be used by anyone. The amount of data you can access through this tool is incredible, and you also have the ability to filter it down so it can be as broad or specific as you like.
You can look at products that are in demand or on the other hand not in demand at any given time. For example, the number of searches for ‘Fire pits’ shot up in April last year when the UK went into a national lockdown, with a 350% increase in searches for this term compared to 2020, indicating a high demand. You can use seasonal trends like this to work out which of your products you need to be pushing at what times.
Social media management
As an eCommerce business, social media will be one of your most important marketing channels, but managing multiple social profiles, alongside everything else that comes with running a business can be challenging.
However, there are a number of free tools designed to make managing your profiles much simpler. Rather than having to switch back and forth between different social platforms and having to find time each day to publish content, these tools allow you to schedule posts for multiple platforms, across multiple days really quickly.
Hootsuite, Buffer and Zoho Social are some of the best-known platforms, and all offer a free option. As well as this, they can provide you with insights into the performance of posts by tracking and reporting on engagements, followers and reach/impressions to help you better understand the results from each post.
Now you can easily schedule social content, you just need some great content to post! Designing and creating graphics might not be one of your skills, but visuals are an incredibly important part of social media success. Luckily there are plenty of free tools that can help you get started.
Canva is a fantastic tool that has ready to edit designs for social media posts, posters, reports, presentations and even invitations – all you need to do is add your own text and images and you’re ready to post!
With the free version you can access a library of royalty-free images and graphics, a range of different fonts and different template designs to create a unique brand look and feel for your designs.
Organising your time
Running your own business often means wearing many different hats and carefully planning your workload and priorities is the key to efficient time management. Trello is a great online tool that is designed to help you do exactly this.
From creating personal to-do lists, to content planning, team collaboration and project management, Trello offers you a central location to organise your time effectively. Within the platform you can create ‘boards’ and within each of these you can create lists that are personalised to you and your business.
You then have the option to share boards with employees, add labels to tasks and even set reminders. It’s simple, easy to use and completely free.
Email marketing is a fantastic way to connect directly with your customers and build long-lasting relationships, something that is really important for many small businesses. Data from Statista estimates that by 2023, half of the world’s population will be using emails and therefore it’s a channel you can’t afford to overlook.
Mailchimp offers a simple, and easy to use platform that will allow you to create, design and send emails to your database of contacts for free. Not only this, but it also allows you to easily integrate a sign-up form into your website to help build your database even further.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about how your website ranks in search engine result pages (SERPS) with the most common search engine being Google. To put it simply, the easier your website is to find on Google, the more organic traffic you are likely to attract.
SEO is incredibly important to consider, but it can also be complicated and time-consuming for small businesses. Whilst it might not be possible to manage all the elements of SEO yourself there are small things you should be doing to help boost your site’s visibility.
Google Analytics, and Google Trends will play a role in helping your SEO, but the key tool you should be utilising is Google Search Console (GSC). Through GSC you can identify any errors on your site, monitor the keywords that are driving traffic to your website and set goals to track progress. As with all the Google tools, it is completely free and there are tonnes of resources available to help you get started with it.
If you’re business also has a physical location, then you should look at utilising the Google My Business tool. According to a survey by Databox, SEO experts agreed that having a Google My Business listing was more important than social media, content marketing and profiles on directory sites such a yelp.
Your Google My Business listing will give your business a better chance of showing up in three key areas of google: local results, Google Maps and local finder. This will in turn give you more exposure and potentially more leads.
Using just a few of these tools will help you use your time more efficiently and open up opportunities to grow your business in 2021. However, as a business owner you’re often juggling many different roles and sometimes outsourcing these or hiring additional staff to help lighten the load is the best option.